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song reviews

Britney Spears

"Till the World Ends"

7

Click to listen to Britney Spears' "Till the World Ends" You want a party song, call a partier. Written by Ke$ha (with Max Martin and Dr. Luke), the second single from Femme Fatale is ginormously pumping uber-Euro uber-disco: sky-sucking synth streaks, a beat that sounds like blimps fucking and a thousand shirtless drunken sailors chanting along on the chorus. Her gauzy vocals kind of drown in the tsunami track. But so would Pavarotti. Britney Spears: A Life in Photos | More »

March 2, 2011

Timbaland feat. Brandy

"808"

5

A month into his track-a-week "Timbaland Thursdays" series, Timbo already seems stretched thin. "808" is Tim-boilerplate: some kind words for his favorite drum machine, a few breaths of Brandy and a bland skitter beat. Listen to "808": Gallery: The Week's Hottest Live Shots | More »

February 28, 2011

Eminem

"Fly Away"

7

Why wasn't this fiery rant included on Eminem's last album? Unlike recent smashes "Not Afraid" and "Love the Way You Lie," this newly surfaced track (which didn't make the cut for Recovery) comes without any high concept — just Eminem spewing fantastic bile for five minutes. "I took a hiatus, haters, now I'm back to cause trouble/Got the fuckin' shape of mushroom clouds for thought bubbles," he fumes over producer Just Blaze's martial drum rolls and spare p... | More »

Tune-Yards

"Bizness"

8

One-woman art-pop tempest Merrill Garbus crafts an awesome collage of African rhythms and hip-shaking horns. Garbus' vocals conjure both Odetta and Janis Joplin, if they'd had looping software. Listen to "Bizness": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

February 25, 2011

'Glee' Cast

"Loser Like Me"

8

Click to listen to Glee's "Loser Like Me" For their first foray into original music, the producers of Glee didn't exactly go out on a limb: They hired Swedish songwriting genius Max Martin, the most reliable and prolific hitmaker of the last decade and a half. The results are predictably fizzy: a fiendishly catchy verse with a hopped-up beat and pop-funk chicken-scratch guitars, followed by an even catchier singsong chorus. The lyric, belted out with bright-sided earnestness by Lea... | More »

February 24, 2011

TV on the Radio

"Will Do"

8

The first single from TV on the Radio's fifth album is a relatively straightforward declaration of heartache from some cerebral artistes – and one of the band's prettiest songs ever. "Will Do" wraps Tunde Adebimpe's falsetto in fuzzy synths, atonal guitars and chamber-group strings, as he pledges his heart to someone who won't be returning the favor any time soon. "I'll be there to take care of you if ever you should decide that you don't want to waste your... | More »

The Pains of Being Pure at Heart

"Belong"

6

The jangly rockers pump themselves into shoegazing superheroes on the title track of their new LP. Credit for the tidal-wave guitars is partly due to the production team of Flood and Alan Moulder, who recall the latter's own work with My Bloody Valentine. Hail the Nineties revival! Listen to "Belong": The Pains of Being Pure At Heart - Belong by Slumberland Records | More »

February 23, 2011

Foo Fighters

"Rope"

7

Click to listen to the Foo Fighters' "Rope" The Foos went for a stripped down, return-to-basics approach on their forthcoming seventh album, Wasting Light (recorded with Butch Vig in Dave Grohl's garage). The first single rides lower to the ground that the usual Foos anthem, especially during the gnarled-guitar fire-fight at the end, without undercutting the modern-rock heroism that's become one of the few reliable guitar-based brands on contemporary radio. Grohl's the la... | More »

February 22, 2011

Das Racist

"Swate"

6

Six heavy-lidded minutes of Bollywood-steeped wisecracking from Brooklyn's reigning rap ironists. They reference Marxist theorist Slavoj Žižek as casually as most rappers reference cheeba. They also reference cheeba. Listen to "Swate":   The 50 Best Songs of 2010: Das Racist, "hahahaha jk?" | More »

Erykah Badu

"Gone Baby, Don't Be Long"

7

Director Flying Lotus creates an alien landscape where Badu fits in just fine. Watching the soul queen's visage glide around a trippy animated spaceship is nearly as hypnotic as listening to the breezily funked-out music. Listen to "Gone Baby, Don't Be Long": Gallery: Random Notes, Rock's Hottest Photos | More »

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Song Stories

“Fantasy”

Mariah Carey | 1995

Serendipity stuck when Mariah Carey rediscovered the glitchy Tom Tom Club hook, a sample of which is the heart of this upbeat slice of dance pop. "I had the melody idea for 'Fantasy' and I was listening to the radio and heard 'Genius of Love,' and I hadn't heard it in a long time," Carey said. "It reminded me of growing up and listening to the radio and that feeling the song gave me seemed to go with the melody and basic idea I had for 'Fantasy.' I initially told [co-writer] Dave Hall about the idea, and we did it. We called up the Tom Tom Club and they were really into it."

More Song Stories entries »
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